Dan Rather headlines program commemorating Ole Miss' place in Journalism history

By University of Mississippi Media Relations

OXFORD – The Society of Professional Journalists plans to celebrate the history of journalism at the University of Mississippi by naming the Ole Miss campus a national historic site in journalism.

Former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather, who reports for HDNet, and Jerry Mitchell, an investigative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, are featured speakers for the April 14 program at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. The 11 a.m. event is free and open to the public.

SPJ is the nation’s largest professional journalism organization. Only one site is selected each year in a competitive process. The program is sponsored by the campus chapter of SPJ and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

The recognition honors the reporters who covered the James Meredith crisis that consumed the Ole Miss campus in 1962. The event was an important moment for journalism in both the history of the university and in the civil rights era.

Both speakers have acted as significant voices in civil rights journalism over the last 40 years.

As a reporter and anchor for CBS News, Rather has extensively covered the changing landscape of America. He was anchor of the “CBS Evening News” for 24 years and was a regular contributor to “60 Minutes.” Since departing CBS, Rather has formed News and Guts media to document his history and views as a journalist. He also anchors “Dan Rather Reports” on HDNet.

For more than 20 years, Mitchell has covered stories pertaining to the civil rights era in Mississippi. Some of his investigations have led to the arrest of Klansmen in decades-old cases. His reporting led to the conviction of Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers; Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers for ordering the fatal firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer in 1966; and Edgar Ray Killen, for helping orchestrate the June 21,1964 killings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. In 2006, charges were filed against reputed Klansman James Ford Seale in connection with the 1964 abduction and murder of two black teenagers, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, based in part on Mitchell’s reporting. Seale was convicted in 2007.